There was a time when I had practically no self-control. The least little thing would cause me to snap at those around me. I usually behaved my worst around those I loved most. It seemed as though everything conspired to make me angry. Of course those were the days when I was sleeping no more than 4 hours at a stretch. I would sleep throughout the day as I found time. I was getting at most 6 hours sleep in a 24 hour period. Usually less. The few times I did pray, I prayed for deliverance for myself.
God eventually delivered me from the working hell I was in. He put me in a job that was closer to home. My 4 hour round trip commute became a 1 hour round trip. My temper got better but I still had very little in the way of self-control. I was not grateful to God, I found other ways to indulge my sinful nature. This lack of self-control was not only sinful but self-destructive as well. Though I had a good job and a happy life to all external appearances, the direction I was heading would have lead to anything but a happy life.
Thank God for His mercy! He used the situation I was in to demonstrate to me that I am among the regenerate and that He would not abandon His own. I could not enjoy my sin because of His Holy Spirit, and I could not enjoy His Holy Spirit because of my sin. I finally gave up my pursuit of self-indulgence. I finally decided there was merit to self-control and tried to exercise that self-control. It was a dismal failure. Every time I tried to control myself it ended up in disappointment. These attempts were just a few of many events in my life God used to teach me to rely on Him solely.
Only now do I think I’m finally getting the picture. Only now that I have stopped trying to control myself and given that up to God am I finally exhibiting self-control. I’ve had people at work tell me they admire how I am able to stay calm in tense situations. Funny, I didn’t think I was calm. I’ve had my wife tell me how she admires how I control my temper around my son. She points out that in the ‘old days’ I would have yelled, now I talk to him and try to help him understand. It isn’t me, it’s Him.
God has been more merciful to me than I have deserved. He has been using my own sinfulness to teach and instill within me the fruits of the Spirit. He has now seen fit to open my mind and help me understand what He has been trying to do. He has removed the fight from within me. He has graciously given me a repentant heart and a desire to please Him. I am finally learning that it is not what we have done nor what we do but what God has done and will do inside us. You can’t develop the fruits of the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit ripen within you without your knowledge or consent. They just begin to bear forth from you as God continues His work within you in His good time.
God is faithful, merciful, sovereign. Soli Deo Gloria.